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Panthers claim 3A title

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

WICHITA -- The Phillipsburg High School boys' track and field team didn't set any state records this year, like its 400-meter relay team did a season ago. But it did run away from the competition and win the program's first team title on Saturday at Cessna Stadium.

It took until the final race of the evening, the 1,600-meter relay, for the Panthers to surpass Beloit for the team title. And it was their star, junior sprinter Stuart Lennemann, who gave the team a big burst in the third leg to go from near the back of the pack to second, and it was senior Trey Ellis who made the final push to win the relay and clinch the team title.

Phillipsburg finished with 69 points. Beloit, which didn't have a team qualify for the 1,600-meter relay final, had 64 points to finish second.

Lennemann was also responsible for the Panthers' other first-place finishes when he won the 200-meter dash in 22.56 seconds and carried the 400-meter relay team to its title.

"We work really hard," said Ellis, who also took third in the 400-meter dash in 50.98 seconds. "We are just blessed with some speed. We have Stuart Lennemann, which he is super fast. It makes our job really easy."

A season ago, Lennemann failed to qualify for the 200-meter finals and took sixth in the 100-meter dash. He was, however, part of the record-breaking 400-meter relay team that set the 3A state record with a time of 42.54 seconds.

Phillipsburg lost two key members off that team in Seth Derr and current Kansas State University football player Sean Newlan. A third piece of that team, current senior Grant Wickham, was replaced by fellow senior Eric Townsdin prior to regionals after Wickham suffered a quad injury.

But Townsdin, a long-time distance runner that rarely made it through the entire track and field season, proved to be a hidden gem for the Panthers. He took fourth in the 100-meter dash in 11.59 seconds and fifth in the 200-meter dash in 23.30 seconds while being that key fourth part of the 400-meter relay team.

"We had a meet where the coaches wanted us to practice different events. I wanted to do the 200, so they put me in the 200 and said I did pretty good in that," Townsdin said.

"He only ran the 100 like four times I think, this year," Lennemann added of Townsdin. "And he placed fourth at state. So that's pretty good."

The final make up of the 400-meter relay team was Lennemann, Townsdin, Ellis and senior hurdler Hunter Kohler. Their first-place time of 42.85 seconds gave last year's record-breaking group a run for its money.

"We weren't really surprised. Like regionals, we got close to it and we've been close to it a couple of times," Ellis said. "We were pretty disappointed that we didn't get it. At the same time we are happy that we won."

The 1,600-meter relay team finished with a time of 3:30.23.

Wickham, who has continued to battle his quad injury, didn't run. But he still took third in the triple jump with a mark of 43 feet, 8.25 inches, and second in the long jump at 21-9.5. Kohler took seventh in the 300-meter hurdles in 41.39.

For the Phillipsburg girls, senior Mattison Dusin took sixth in the shot put with a throw of 36-8, and 10th in the discus with 103-1.

The only other Panther girl at state, Mindy Gower, took 16th in the javelin at 98-2.